My first job was running a newspaper route at age 13. Up at 5am, seven days a week!

I began my first real job when I was 13. I had a newspaper route for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was published seven days a week.

I had made money before that by selling clothes pin holders that my mother made. The holders looked like little dresses, hung by a hanger on the clothesline and cost fifty cents (can you believe that – it was a long time ago). I also had a job shining shoes in a barber shop before my paper route.

I had to get up at 5 a.m. each morning to have my route completed by 6:30 which the paper expected. My paper route was on Route 360, just west of Richmond in what was then Chesterfield County. Back then, Route 360 was the main tractor-trailer highway in Virginia. This meant that I was on the road, frequently in the dark, with huge trucks.

I am sure the drivers had a difficult time seeing me. My route covered about two miles on Route 360 in a hilly area of the road.

I was carrying over 100 newspapers on my bike. I tried to stay on the paved section of the road because the unpaved area was rough sledding on a bicycle load down with newspapers. But whenever one of those tractor-trailers came flying by at 70 miles an hour (posted limit was 55 mph) I pulled off the paved section out of an instinct of self-preservation.

I remember having a lone customer that I had to pump up and down a steep hill to reach. This may have been the point in my life when I learned to curse. I traveled over five miles a day on my route for a little over a year. I quit so I could go out for football at school.

I missed the $12 a week I earned. I often wonder if my parents realized how hazardous my job was. It was one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had, but you couldn’t beat the pay.


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